When Phil Todaro and Jeff Barton met as lab partners in a seventh-grade science class, the seed for a joint venture was planted. High school came and went, college came and went, and the seed survived in the friends' nonstop talk of breaking ground for their own business. Then, in 1995, Phil and Jeff discovered hydroponic farming in a newspaper article. The seed sprouted. They watered it by taking a class at the University of Arizona from Merle Jensen, a forerunner in hydroponics and the lead designer of Epcot's The Land pavilion in Disney World. Eventually, their seed grew into a thriving hydroponic greenhouse called Water Fresh Farm.
Today, that farm regularly yields a dozen different crops including tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, and spinach. Phil and Jeff plant seeds in rockwool cubes, coconut husks, or perlite mixtures and, once they sprout, transfer them to nutrient-rich pools of water, where they can grow and splash one another during games of Marco Polo. The market sells these vegetables alongside artisan breads and cheese, fresh pasta, and deli meats from local establishments and farms. Other sources of food include the kitchen, which serves soups, sandwiches, and entrees including pumpkin-sage ravioli and pulled pork in an apple-cider barbeque sauce. Nearby, the silo prepares fresh hot dogs and ice cream in six different flavors, including moose tracks and watermelon sorbet.: